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From the CXO Roundtable

6th May 2020

Warning: the following article contains the phrases: "never let a crisis go to waste", "doubling down on digital" and "the new normal".

Over the last few weeks we've been running Foolproof and Zensar Leadership Roundtables. We've spoken to our clients in the technology and digital C-suite about how the COVID-19 pandemic has hit their organisations, how they immediately responded and the challenges and priorities they have as they move out of the initial response phase.

Tim Loo facilitates a client discussion on the business challenges associated with COVID-19.
Here are some of the themes and shared learnings from the last few weeks across the banking, energy and services sectors:
  • Our people are capable of extraordinary things: In this extraordinary time of crisis, most of the technology and digital teams in their businesses have risen to the challenge, doing truly remarkable things: ramping up 10x the number of staff who can work from home in a matter of days including kit and connections, finding truly innovative operational and technical solutions to seemingly impossible specialist business and customer problems. This has been a time for intense collaboration, ingenuity and bloody hard work at scale. 
  • Never let a crisis go to waste: Organisations have been forced not just to implement new technologies and ways of working (from remote working technology solutions to fast tracked compliance approvals) but to ensure adoption as there is no alternative and no time. In that regard, all of our leaders described more positive change has happened in the last 3 weeks than in the last 3 years.
  • Our organisation's digital maturity has just been assessed in the real world - did you pass?: You don't need expensive, drawn-out theoretical assessments by overly paid management consultants to tell you where you are in digital, your direction of travel and if you're moving fast enough. All of our company's digital capabilities and maturity have become obvious and stark to our people and customers.
  • Accelerating digital by doubling down on digital investment: Technology and digital leaders who have been delivering modernisation and transformation in their organisations have been vindicated through their teams' adaptability and readiness to respond to the crisis. The investment in and implementation of, new architectures (the move to the cloud, API services), commerce and service platforms (experience platforms, e-commerce) and digital workplace (tools and ways of working) have made all the difference. 
  • Like planting a tree the best time to start investing in digital was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. For all organisations this should be the time to double down on digital capability and accelerate new ways of working such as Agile, DesignOps and DevOps.
  • The human impact of rapid change: As the crisis has supercharged the change process we need to be conscious of those in our teams who are starting to show signs of post traumatic stress through to post traumatic growth (and anywhere in between). As fatigue inevitably catches up, we need to provide leadership, support and tools to our own people, clients and partners. 
  • Where people need to be and how will they work together in the future: People will work from home more. Period. Thinking around locations and office space can and should change in terms of where and why we need physical locations. Companies will be reviewing their locations and the need for expensive, prestige premises. Our imagination of where our future hires come from can and should broaden significantly, widening the catchment for talent.
  • Moving from reactive management to intentional & proactive leadership: Responding quickly to the crisis has triggered a change in the attitude to risk and ways to overcome inertia proving to organisations that they can move quickly, be decisive and deliver at a different velocity. The questions now is - how can you make some of this stick? As you move beyond the intensity of crisis/incident response mode you need to be intentional about what ways of working, platforms and processes we want to become the new normal.
Thanks once again to our CXO participants for their time and openness in sharing.

If you're a digital, technology or design leader in your organisation and like the sound this type of discussion with industry peers, drop me line at tim.loo@foolproof.co.uk. We're planning to do more roundtables in the coming weeks and months. 


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